The articles in these proceedings are from a conference co-sponsored by the Pragmatics SIG, Testing & Evaluation SIG, and the Kyoto Chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT). This event was held at the Kyoto Institute of Technology on May 10 - 11, 2003 and had three themes. Presentations sponsored by the Kyoto Chapter related to the theme Conversational Fluency: Ideology or Reality? Presentations sponsored by the Pragmatics SIG related to the rubric Connecting Theory, Research and Practice. Presentations sponsored by the Testing and Evaluation SIG pertained to Communicative Language Testing.
Three keynote speakers were featured. J. D. Brown gave a presentation on language fluency. Gabriele Kasper discussed the role of context and identity in L2 pragmatics. And Bob Gibson highlighted some key features of communicative language testing. In addition, about 40 other presentations were featured along with a number of poster session presentations. A total of about one hundred and twenty people attended this two-day event.
The relationship between testing, pragmatics, and fluency is an intriguing topic that has generated extensive research. The 2002 Pan-SIG Conference Proceedings attests to some of this research. This collection of papers explores the interface further, suggesting how the fields of pragmatics and testing have much to learn from each other. The 2004 Pan-SIG Conference Proceedings will further investigate many of the themes raised in these papers.
The articles in these proceedings are grouped into two sections. The first six articles focus on pragmatic issues, some of which present interesting testing corollaries. The next four articles focus on testing issues, some of which raise pragmatic concerns. .
The opening essay by J. D. Brown considers many various facets associated with the concept of fluency. Brown emphasizes the importance of offering students tools to develop fluency in all aspects of language, emphasizing the need to educate students about how to make appropriate linguistic choices in the light of contextual, social, sexual, and psychological constraints. Six specific strategies to develop fluency in language classrooms are then outlined. The article concludes by providing some general guidelines for teachers wishing to create more fluency-oriented classes. These include encouraging students to make constructive errors and testing students' fluency.
The next article by Jonathan Aliponga considers one teaching approach reputed to develop oral fluency. Aliponga outlines how the questioning strategies developed by Berlitz can be applied to large classroom EFL university contexts. A key distinction in his article is how Berlitz questioning strategies involve both full form responses and reduced form responses. Acknowledging that reduced form responses constitute native speaker discourse norms, Aliponga nonetheless suggests that full-form responses help EFL students internalize the grammar of a target language. His article concludes by calling for empirical studies to validate the reputed value of Bertliz questioning strategies.
Next H.P.L. Molloy examines how the term "appropriate" means different things to different fluent English speakers. After outlining a scaling study that explored the ways various people interpret this term, Molloy suggests that appropriateness is an unstable concept. According to his study, conceptions about this concept appear to be base on two criteria: (1) emphasis on self-reliance, and (2) reference to consequences. Molloy's data suggest that individuals vary greatly in the ways they rank each of these two criteria. Molloy's article concludes by cautioning against the use of single anchor words in rating scales.
Mika Shimura then explores the relationship between personality and written advice giving styles. Measuring the degree of introversion or extroversion among seventy Japanese university students, she found that introverted students tended to offer more direct written advice than extroverted students in some types of situations, but not others. The need for further studies that include larger samples and think-aloud protocols was underscored at the end of her article.
Next Rieko Matsuoka explores the impact of gender on compliment giving patterns. Though some minor gender variations in compliment strategies were noted, Matsuoka's data suggest that overall males and females from the same culture and of the same age tend to be equally explicit in giving compliments. Matsuoka also points out how complimenting relates to power relations and posits, "as women become stronger, the need for flattery may be decreasing." She also cites studies which suggest that women are more likely to receive compliments than men.
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After this, Tim Greer outlines a hybrid ethnographic/CA approach to transcribing bilingual conversational data. Investigating the way multi-ethnic Japanese teenagers switch language codes to express their identities, he highlights some of the challenges involved in rendering bilingual speech into script. One problem Greer acknowledges is that very detailed transcription are often difficult for non-specialists to interpret. Greer also mentioned some of the problems involved in transcribing discourse fragments from one language into another, noting how transcription is an inherently political process.
In the first article in Part II, Yuuji Nakamura contrasts two different types of oral tests in terms of a set of rating scales. His data suggests that dialog tests (between a teacher and student) tend to be generally easier for students than multilog tests (between three students). Using Rasch analysis to ascertain how well the various items in his rating scale worked, Nakamura recommended maintaining all original five items in the dialog test, but streamlining the multilog to assess only one item: Multilog Conversation Strategies. He pointed out that the conversation strategies needed to maintain active multilogs tended to be more difficult than those needed for dialogs. Nakamura's paper concluded by pointing out some of the classroom applications of his findings and calling for more research.
Steven Quasha then describes how digital photos from mobile phones can be effective ways to test students' communicative competence. Adopting qualitative research methodology, Quasha has students develop digital portfolios which they discuss among peers. The results are then recorded and reviewed by the interlocutors. In addition, reflective personal interviews and discussion of learning logs with the teacher are held. One particularly interesting facet of Quasha's research is its student-based grading component. Quasha adds that a, "learner-centered grading approach, where the students are actually determining the scores and setting the standards, is more empowering for learners because they are completely involved in the process." Quasha reminds teachers to empower students and not lose awareness of the things that are important to individual language learners.
Next Mark Chapman investigates how a company with many overseas branches uses the TOEIC® to make decisions concerning overseas work assignments. The need for reliable, accurate tests of language ability is briefly outlined, then the some of the claims which have been made for TOEIC® test are critically examined. Chapman cautions that the TOEIC® should not be regarded as "a testing panacea that will be all things to all language programs" and suggests that using the TOEIC® test in isolation is unlikely to be the most accurate assessment method available. He also calls for more critical research into the TOEIC® and suggests two relatively direct language tests to supplement (not replace) the TOEIC® in the business context described in his article.
GholamReza HajiPourNezhad then examines the nature of subjectivity and judgment validation in language testing. He points out how subjective judgments are inherent in every step of the test design process, then mentions three main ways to reduce subjectivity in language testing. HajiPourNezhad then argues in favor of a pooled expert judgment approach to test construction, adding " . . . most studies ignore the process of how a test is constructed, and take no notice of the judgments underlying the stages of its construction process."
We would like to conclude by offering special thanks to the following people for their help in organizing this conference: Nathan Furuya, Jonathan Augustine, Andrew Blyth, Paul Hackshaw, Yvonne Ishida, Sekiko Kakuhama, Megumi Kawate-Mierzejewska, and Peter Sakura. Without their hard work and valuable advice, this conference would have never taken place.
- T Newfields, Sayoko Yamashita, Anne Howard, & Carol Rinnert
2003 Conference Proceedings Co-editors